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The Internet Kill Switch – One Of The Favorite New Tools Of Tyrannical Governments All Over The Globe

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This past week was a perfect example of how the “Internet kill switch” is rapidly becoming one of the favorite new tools of tyrannical governments all over the globe. Once upon a time, the Internet was a bastion of liberty and freedom, but now nation after nation is cracking down on it. In fact, legislation has been introduced once again in Congress that would give the president of the United States an “Internet kill switch” that he would be able to use in the event of war or emergency. Of course there would be a whole lot of wiggle room in determining what actually constitutes a true “emergency”. The members of Congress that are pushing this “Internet kill switch” bill want the U.S. to become more like China in this regard. In China, the Internet is highly controlled, highly regulated and highly censored. In fact, China has shut down the Internet in entire regions when they have felt it necessary. So what Egypt did in shutting down the Internet this past week is not unprecedented – but it was quite shocking.

Organizers of the protests in Egypt had been using the #Jan25 hashtag on Twitter and had been communicating with each other via Facebook, and so the Mubarak regime thought that they could significantly derail the protest movement by shutting down the Internet.

It has been widely reported that approximately 88 percent of the Internet in Egypt was shut down at one point.  Jim Cowie, the chief technology officer of an Internet monitoring firm known as Renesys, described on his blog just how complete and total this Internet shutdown in Egypt actually was….

“Every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy, and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their Internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world.”

So how was this all done?  How could such a large section of the Internet be taken offline so rapidly?  Well, a recent article on MSNBC described how it works….

According to David Clark, an MIT computer scientist whose research focuses on Internet architecture and development, a government’s ability to control the Internet depends on its control of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the private sector companies that grant Internet access to customers.

“ISPs have direct control of the Internet, so what happens in any country depends on the control that the state has over those ISPs,” Clark told Life’s Little Mysteries in an e-mail. “Some countries regulate the ISPs much more heavily. China has in the past ‘turned off’ the Internet in various regions.”

Whenever the subject of Internet censorship comes up, China always seems to be involved in the conversation.  China has more Internet users than anyone else in the world, but they also have the tightest controls.

The Chinese government is absolutely obsessed with “maintaining order” and it has shown that it will go to extreme lengths to quell dissent.

For example, the government of China cut off the entire Xinjiang region from the Internet for nearly a year after civil unrest erupted there in 2009.

The Chinese government is so sensitive to political dissent that they even began censoring the word “Egypt” on a number of micro-blogging websites this past week.

A recent article posted on Raw Story explained what happened….

On the and sites, the Chinese equivalents of Twitter, which is censored in China, a query with the word “Egypt” returned the response: “According to the laws in force, the results of your search cannot be given.”

Isn’t that bizarre?

Nothing like that would ever happen in the United States, right?

Well, don’t be so sure.

Last year, U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman made the following statement to CNN’s Candy Crowley….

“Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too.”

That statement should chill you to your bones.

U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman wants Chinese-style Internet censorship to come to the United States.

In fact, as mentioned above, legislation that would give the president of the United States an “Internet kill switch” has been introduced in the Senate once again, and in fact it has already been approved by a Senate panel.

The legislation has bipartisan support, and it is being pushed this time by Maine Senator Susan Collins, who is a ranking member on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

This bill, S.3480, is entitled “The Protecting Cyberspace As A National Asset Act of 2010“.  It would create a brand new government agency (as if we needed more of those) known as the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications.

This new agency would be given extraordinary power over the Internet – including the power to completely shut down the Internet for 30 days.

Collins insists that this new law is necessary because it would enable us to protect the Internet against “cyber threats” before they could cause serious damage.

While that may sound good on paper, the reality is that giving the government an “Internet kill switch” would create opportunities for tremendous government abuse.

Wired recently ran an article that detailed some of these concerns….

A congressional white paper (.pdf) on the measure said the proposal prohibits the government from targeting websites for censorship “based solely on activities protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

Oddly, that’s exactly the same language in the Patriot Act used to test whether the government can wiretap or investigate a person based on their political beliefs or statements.

Of course we all know how that turned out.

It has been revealed time after time after time that the U.S. government has been investigating large numbers of people based on their political beliefs.

The Internet is a great way for people to express and share their political thoughts and ideas, but it is also providing a way for governments around the world to watch and track dissenters.

For example, major news websites in China now require users to register their true identities before they are able to leave any comments.  This enables the government to be able to identify (and potentially deal with) anyone that does not express the “right” views.

In the same manner, the Obama administration is now proposing the introduction of a “universal Internet ID” for Americans.  The program is being touted as “voluntary”, but how long do you think it would be before a whole host of government agencies started to use these universal Internet IDs to watch, monitor, track and control the Internet activities of tens of millions of Americans?

The following is a video news report from CBS News about these new universal Internet IDs….

So where does all of this Internet censorship end?

Well, the truth is that it is only going to get tighter and tighter as the years go by.

Eventually you will probably need a government-issued license to put up websites such as this one, and in fact someday you will probably need a government-issued license before you can even log on to the Internet.

So enjoy this era of relatively unlimited Internet freedom while you can, because it is rapidly coming to an end.  Tyrannical governments all over the globe are realizing that in order to maintain “control” they must place a much tighter grip on the flow of information on the Internet.

If you live in the United States or another nation where there is still at least a limited amount of liberty and freedom, it is going to be important to let your representatives know that you do not want Internet censorship and you certainly do not want any sort of an Internet kill switch.

Liberties and freedoms are incredibly precious, and once they are taken away they are very difficult to get back.

  • michelle

    cutting off the internet would be akin to cutting off the heroin supply to 100,000,000 junkies and the withdrawal symptoms of this armed populace will not be pretty!!!

  • davidm

    sign of the times

  • Tunga

    Well written and researched. Thank you.

  • Smith, Winston

    The kill switch is a double edged sword. How long can an economy go without serious damage with the internet off?


    this idea, however malformed and unlikely to pass is a symptom of a greater issue, as the US loses power and relevancy overseas it will increase the grip on its citizens to retain power and legitimacy, tighter and tighter.

  • Colin

    This isn’t surprising. Governments and powerful and influential individuals have always attempted to limit the access to and the dissemination of knowledge, and manipulate this knowledge to their favor throughout human history. I don’t know what form the Internet may evolve into in a hundred years, but I don’t believe that we have seen the last of the changes which will impact this network adversely.

  • Cary

    Individual tyrannic nations are less guilty than the shadowy forces behind the curtain.

    Its a complicated system that partners media, banking and government, and they do not want more than the curious few to put the pieces together.

    Internet censorship is more about quelling anti-semitism than anything else. And if that statement is erased from this post, which I suspect it will be, it only proves my point. We do not have freedom of speech.

  • Dan McDonald

    Internet Freedom should be regarded as a freedom of the Press, and a separation of the press from government is essential to any true freedom of the press. This should be considered as part of the foundation of liberty. Therefore any politician supporting licensing of the internet should be regarded as an opponent of liberty and whatever other policies they support or do not support should place them in a “do not support” position. Would our founding fathers have supported government regulation and licensing of the internet any more than they supported government licensing and regulation of the press?

    We are drifting rapidly into a collectivist view of freedom. Freedom, like the managed economy of a socialist society is determined by a centralized command center on behalf of the populous, and the individual’s freedom is counted as relevant only when his voice marches in sync with the whole. This is the Chinese view of freedom, and so dissenters can be cracked down on in the name of freedom, because the Chinese do believe that the freedom of the individual is at odds with the freedom of the people (collective). In America, freedom has been viewed bottom up. It has been built on the concept of free individuals, free association of individuals, and collective groups built on the voluntary nature of association. But increasingly our view of freedom is collectivist, so much so that most Americans do not respond with horror when a government political advertisement teaches a young child to think of Air Force jets flying overhead as the sound of freedom. The founding fathers had a dread of standing armies, knowing that most governments with time sought to increase power and a standing army was often the method. The Air Force is a tool that may be used to defend freedom, or be used in the wrong hands to send death upon innocent people who simply get in the way of a government’s policies. The glorification of the military is generally the glorification of the collective at the expense of the individual.

  • joey

    There is as many Republicans as Democrats in favor of this,another good reason to vote third party.

  • john w

    Okay, in an ideal world where you can trust your political class, there are valid reasons for allowing the government to shut down the internet. It is still a scary idea though.

    However….what is already happening in the USA is almost as scary. During the past week, Jazeera TV has been on the ground in Egypt, providing the best reporting on events there. So, have Americans been tuning in? Nooooooo. The corporatist American state has managed to shut Jazeera out of the American market.

    I wonder why? Jazeera regularly promotes democracy in the Middle East and exposes the hypocrisy and corruption of regimes there. US government and corporations should love the station, no? Well, actually, no. It criticizes the corrupt regimes that America keeps in place. You know the regimes that crush people just like you and me in order to provide “stability” so that American corporations can function more easily and so that the ruling classes of the Middle East can maintain their lifestyles.

    If Americans actually started getting balanced, factual news about the Middle East, news that doesn’t always follow the official American corporate line, new that reveals that people there basically want the same things out of life that you and your family want ..well, you know, that wouldn’t be very good for business as usual, would it?

  • mondobeyondo

    Could someone shut down websites like CNN, Facebook, even (GASP!) The Economic Collapse blog?!


    One word: Wikileaks…(but it’s back up. For now.)

  • roadrunner

    Hey folks, we already have a portian of these internet ID policies.


    Major Western Governments will Fall before all of this takes place. Change is coming it just takes time as the curent Governing Structures decline. Just look at History for the PROOF !

  • DownWithLibs

    It’s an “obama-nation” alright! Yes, the last of our liberties will soon be stripped from us.

  • mark

    What we need to be thinking about, and discussing, is how we are going to get around such a law once its provisions are implemented.

  • impeachRonPaul

    Rights are being taken away. Republicans want to take reproductive rights, abortion would be illegal, dictate gay marriage bans, outlaw medical marajuana etc. Republicans want to restict us and give the power to the goverment and churches.

  • Amerikagulag

    “…The members of Congress that are pushing this “Internet kill switch” bill want the U.S. to become more like China in this regard….”

    That’s because Congress is the opposite of PROgress. They would like our Constitution to be more like China’s too. In fact if American would agree to work for a cup of rice a day, they’d be ecstatic!

    Congress in now public enemy #1.

    If your government shuts down the internet, SHUT DOWN YOUR GOVERNMENT!

  • John Donohue

    Right now the intelligence appararatus use a kind of soft suppression policy, but anybody who say researches 9/11, political corruption, bank manipulation and other topics gets looked at, the private contractors just don’t want the person to know that.
    My e-mail used to route through Rand which is one of the largest and most important contractors of the intelligence agencies. Since I began to talk about it they have been careful to change
    the address location.
    The fact is that anybody who logs into sites is able to be tracked and due to great advances in artificial technologies profiles built on everything about you in real time.
    Most of the contractors are private and so really have a financial incentive to keep “cyber threats” alive. There are genuine threats true. The chinese were able to steal reams of technology during the Clinton Administration and it was so embarrasing for the United States Gov they quickly closed the case. Most of the military, intelligence, ect. is off-line so to speak, and one would have to spend a serious amount of time penetrating the first barriers just to reach the second and third ones.
    Like you say the real threat is political discussion, dissent, research and anything that would change the status quo. The preferred policy though is different than China. Intelligence prefers a soft kill approach. The military has a significant part in this also but what is important is that most Americans are watching Dancing With The Stars or porno or logging into facebook(which by it’s very nature is easy to track), so I don’t see the US Gov doing anything heavy handed in the near future so I disagree with you last statement.

  • To silence the internet in this day and age is the ultimate censorship and control of government over its people. If we allow it here, we are only adding one more plank on the road to ruin. We were insane to elect the inmates of the insane asylum two years ago, and are now paying the price.

  • H. Welch

    The entire idea of Internet Kill Switch is unconstitutional! On the face of it, it is a violation of the “freedom of speech” clause as well as the “freedom of the press”.

    Any congressman or woman voting in favor of such a bill is in violation of their “oath of office”. They should be subject to impeachment as a consequence!

    And, if we are going to retain any semblance of freedom (not government granted but God granted) as well as our foundations as presented in the Constitution, we better start getting impeachment proceedings ready against a number of elected officials!

  • Tatiana Covington

    One word: disobey.

  • Maria

    Access to the internet has given millions of people incentive…to learn…and to “prepare”. Without the alternative news, I’m not sure we would have ever realized what was happening.

    It’s too late now. Even if the government shuts off the internet today, too many people already know the truth. They know what is happening and why.

    What do these tyrannical governments think they are going to accomplish by shutting it off? They think with the push of a button they can turn off rebellion? Yeah, THAT’S really working in Egypt…

    People are destitute, desperate and starving. Watch and see what happens in America when the gas hits $4 a gallon…$5 a gallon…and even $6 a gallon.

    We may see Cairo in metro America…

  • Businesses grow more dependent on the Internet every day, so beyond the tyrannical personal freedom issue, shutting down the Internet in the U.S. would shut down the economy.

    Can you imagine the outcry if Barry took away people’s access to Facebook?

    International Silver Network

  • mondobeyondo

    You all know the opposite of Progress is Congress, right?

    Just pass a little bit of legislation here and there, with their own little excuses:

    CNN: Too liberal.
    Fox News: Too right wing.
    BBC: Too foreign.
    Al-Jazeera: Way too foreign. Can’t even undertand their language.
    Independent blogs: Too loony. Too many conspiracy theorists and so forth.
    NBC News: Yeah, they’re fine.

    Shut down all of the others. NBC shall be allowed to preach the “truth” to the American people.

  • Progressive Ed

    The Emperor never had much use for “freedom of the press”. Except, of course, for the 99% of the press that wants him deified prior to the end of his reign.

  • mondobeyondo

    Americans will find a way to pay for $6 a gallon gasoline. We are too addicted to oil.

    That’s $30 for 5 gallons of gas, which would be maybe 1/4th the capacity of your gas slurping SUV.

    But we’ll manage.

  • mondobeyondo

    Not aiming that missive towards anyone personally, in case you do happen to own a gas slurping SUV. Just wanted to make that clear.

  • And everyday, millions of people use the internet for different usage and are now being reliable with the power of internet. Just like how media is being cutoff if the government doesn’t like what they hear and read…

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  • robert

    This entire thing does not surprise me, though i hope it does not get passed without a fight(or at all). Bush did enact a lot of initiatives,and Obama is continuing them. The Patriot Act was the start to see what the people do, react, and adjust themeselves to it, before they legislate more. Crushing the internet and access is one way to control free speech and those dissenters.

  • why is everyone acting like the US gov dosent already have this power the NSA and the FCC can block,track,shutdown,blackout any comuication they deam a threat to the GOV! Its not new!
    Im not saying its A GOOD THING but its not a new thing.

  • One word about internet IDs: “Proxies”. I already use them,some of the time,and they are excellent.If you want to pay for one,fine,or you can use the free ones,like on “Anymouse”,(spelling) or “4 proxies”.Try a lot of the free proxies,and see which you like;some are only for facebook,and kid’s sites,schools.Some are for the US,and the others get Europe,and the other countries.Not all of them are good,you have to shop around,and use them,to see.

    But if they had internet ID,I would pay to have a really good proxy,that hid my identity completely.You proxy-business guys,out there,keep that in mind.

    Regular proxies already hide your ID from sites you go on,and the internet in general.A friend turned me onto them,when I got banned from a website,that I talked back to(criticism they did not want to hear,)and they banned me.Now,I can get back on,post,do anything,cause the proxy is hiding me.I have a new membership,on the site,as a different person.

    If they do that “internet ID” bs,the proxy-software makers will pop up,and offer very strong,armor-coated proxies,that few can get thru,and they’ll sell like hotcakes.They will probably get hip,and put out free ones,too.People like me,will use them and tell the feds to go stuff it.

    I think the commercial computer guys are a lot more advanced than the fed.govt. guys.The Israelis are really hot at software. Ditto the Germans.(???) The Germans came up with the first,good,website-security.I also respect the Japanese greatly,about software,and computer stuff.

    The other thing is,if they look at your text,what you send and write,you might want to start encrypting everything you send,and receive.Your computer repair guy can set up your computer,and put on the devices so everything you send out,is encrypted.Let the Feds. try to crack everyone encrypting their email,and comments,all the time. ha ha.Have fun,guys,it would take the feds a lot of work,to try and undo everyone’s encrypting,all over the web.I believe now,it might be possible to encrypt a whole website.I’m not sure,but I bet it’s possible.Hey,if they can do that,maybe they can either encrypt your identity,or give you a false one,that’s visible.

    I think the Feds are just giving a lot of hackers and software nerds,who are really good at security,a challenge,and a fun game to overcome.If I were really good at hacking,and computer security,I’d definitely start working already,to get around internet IDs,and all that bs.The other thing is,you might be able to switch to different MEDIUMS,to remain undetected.Like,for example,those companies that have phone access via your internet connection.

    People forget that the telephone lines were the first internet connections.Now,everyone is doing broadband,but hey,if you have dial-up,I think some of them still run thru the PHONE LINES. Remember those primative telephone lines,that put you on the web? I doubt that anyone pays attention to them.Do they? They’re so slow. But are you going to shut down all the TELEPHONE LINES,too??Who the heck is going to monitor tons and tons of phone lines,all the time?heh heh.Just a thought. 😉

  • mondobeyondo

    @ Markham

    Even those antique late 20th century land lines have to access an Internet server, using the IP4 protocol (

    They’ll be shut down just like the broadband connections would.

  • Dale

    One of the comments about ID’s and being track is fundamentally incorrect. The fact of the matter is, you and everyone is being watched already if they so desire to watch track you and no this is not a conspiracy theories it happens all the time. Take Comcast for instance, if they see that your downloading material in large quantities that can slow your internet down, kick you off or if it’s illegal they can turn you over to the police for investigation, this is 100% true, I’ve seen it happen in my neighborhood. So the government doesn’t need to issue ID cards, they need to have more control over the ISP, which as you stated will happen as time passes.
    Enjoy your freedom people!

  • bj

    Here in Australia not only do they want direct control at the ISP level like the American government they are pushing to have every site classified like the way they do with movies and TV programs. Any sites not meeting the classification guide lines will be banned.They already have a list of banned sites that they refuse to release to the public. If you try to access a banned site it redirects you to a message that you are breaking the law and can be prosecuted.
    They claim that only child exploitation and sites instructing on criminal activity will be banned but refuse to define what that means.So here we already have a government that decides what we can or can’t see and does it in secret without any accountablility. Fight for your freedoms while you can or else your apathy will ensure you have them taken like we have.

  • ssgconway

    If they leave landline phone service on, older protocols like Telnet and Gopher, both of which are still active, if somewhat marginal, will still work. So will faxing. The Iron Curtain was brought down, in part, by the use of faxing to move information. CB radios may be another ‘old-tech’ standby for local communication.

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